View Full Version : Why is there so little discussion of this book?

The Unnamable
02-04-2006, 09:41 AM
Okay, it’s not Huckleberry Finn but it’s certainly worth reading and is no less profound than the later work. Is it because Twain is a terribly bad influence on young people?

What does the following episode ‘teach’ us?

”Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the in- significant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.”

A few paragraphs later and Tom has not only managed to dupe all the fools into doing his work for him, he has also persuaded them to pay for the privilege. It begins wonderfully and gets better:

“Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with -- and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door- knob, a dog-collar -- but no dog -- the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while -- plenty of company -- and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it -- namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger- coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.”

Fantastic stuff! But hasn’t Tom also learned that conning the stupid is the way to success? This is hardly a good lesson for a young man to be learning or for Twain to be teaching.

Thank God for satire and sense.

05-01-2006, 03:42 PM
I agree...i read it in third grade and remember every bit of it! it is a terrific book, worth reading maybe twice. ;)

05-01-2006, 03:44 PM
Okay, it’s not Huckleberry Finn

What does the following episode ‘teach’ us?

I loved that episode as a kid. Really helped me to grasp reverse psychology!

Joseph Blasi
05-18-2006, 04:52 AM
I have a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and I know for a fact that it is at least 70 years old. I know this because of the library card in the back of the book where people have rented the book. I need desprate help in finding the origins of this antique book and I am willing to accept any suggestions as to when this book may have been published. I encourage anyone who has helpful information to please contact me at [email protected] There very well could be an award for who ever is willing to participate in the finding of the origins of this old artifact. Please Help!!!!!!!!!!!
Joseph Blasi

05-18-2006, 05:20 AM
Oh yeah, this is a wonderful book. I will say that it is one of the books which I read when I was very young. At that time, Tom Sawyer used to be my favourite character. I still find his character much more interesting than Huckleberry Finn. I will suggest everyone to read Adventures Of Tom Sawyer! A book full of entertainment for people of all ages!

EDIT: I think that this episode teach us that intelligence is bliss.

06-29-2006, 12:30 PM
I read Tom Sawyer when I was young, probably younger than 10, and am starting to think I should reread it. I think this excerpt appeals to young audiences, especially boys, because they would like to get away with similar activities. Tow Sawyer is quite exciting, and I enjoyed it very much. I see no particular reason why Huckleberry Finn should be more popular, but his adventures were more wild and crazy.

Laura Ashley
09-13-2007, 05:02 AM
I read this novel when I was about 9 years old, and from then on, I started to love classic books. It's still one of my best books and I think I have reread and reread it for about a hundred times. It's simply irresistable.

09-13-2007, 04:24 PM
I read this when I was around 8 and instantly loved it, so much that I bought the English version when I didn't understand it. Tom Sawyer its an amazing book.

09-16-2007, 02:05 PM
Twain was a very comic writer, rather a cynic too. Personally I enjoyed Huck more as a child but I'd read Tom Sawyer first. I still think Huck is a really important book but Tom is a good book for children. I doubt if many boys are as easily conned as Tom's pals. He wouldn't be able to fool all of them all of the time.

09-29-2010, 06:05 PM
Just read Tom Sawyer at age 34. I think that overcoming Twain's bashing of this book - his famous equation of "mental masturbation" - was an obstacle to my reading. That said, I enjoyed the book for what it was, sans Twain's guilty lack of conscience.

11-28-2011, 01:54 AM
This is often taken as a young readers' book, and I'm certainly in favor of readers, young and old, reading this. But there are a lot of adult lessons in it. The whitewashing incident is probably the most remarkable lesson. But there's another one I also like to turn to as a lesson for adults.

In chapter 33, Twain writes a rather scathing denunciation of people OPPOSED to capital punishment: "The petition [for Injun Joe's pardon] had been largely signed; many tearful and eloquent meetings had been held, and a committee of sappy women been appointed to go in deep mourning and wail around the governor, and implore him to be a merciful *** and trample his duty under foot. Injun Joe was believed to have killed five citizens of the village, but what of that? If he had been Satan himself there would have been plenty of weak- lings ready to scribble their names to a pardon-petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired and leaky water-works."

Varenne Rodin
11-28-2011, 03:52 AM
I love this book. I'm really glad you chose to give it some attention. I read it again last year just for fun. I'm reading several of the books I was made to read in school, now with completely different reactions. I enjoyed it as a child, but the social impact of it is so much more recognizable to me as an adult.

02-18-2014, 03:20 PM
I agree...i read it in third grade and remember every bit of it! it is a terrific book, worth reading maybe twice. ;)
i didn't read it yet because I am 10 year old but I will read it.This site is awesome because now everyone know's or start to know who Mark Twain is and about him.